Rash of thefts in dorms leads to investigation

A recent surge in thefts hit campus this past week, during which several Frosh Quad residents reported stolen laptops and cash. A Williamstown Police Department (WPD) investigation found a suspect in the case, and on Sunday night the stolen computers were all returned. Though there were 23 reports of burglary at the College in 2007, according to Campus Safety and Security, major thefts are not a common occurrence at the College.

Last Wednesday, five thefts were reported to Security, though a watch reported stolen was found later the same day. At 10:30 a.m., a student reported that he was missing some cash from a wallet and a laptop. At noon, a resident of Williams C reported a missing bookbag that contained a wallet and iPod. The wallet was found later, but some cash was missing.

At 1:10 p.m. the same day, a laptop belonging to a Sage B student studying in Sawyer was stolen. The last report on Nov. 12 came in at 4:05 p.m.; another Williams C first-year’s laptop and $45 in cash were stolen from a common room. The student’s ID and credit cards were not stolen.

The thefts continued through Thursday, with a 9:15 p.m. report of a laptop stolen from Paresky and more money missing from a backpack in Williams C. All told, Williams C first-years lost “two laptops, four wallets, one backpack and one iPod,” said Junior Advisor (JA) Sophia Sequeira ’10.

After the Williams Hall thefts, Aaron Gordon, assistant director of Campus Life, circulated a message at the urging of Jean Thorndike, director of Security, warning students that “the perpetrators are still at large, which means your belongings and the belongings of your residents could still be at risk.” The message was accompanied by Sequeira’s email to the JA listserv announcing the Frosh Quad thefts and asking JAs to contact “frosh and ask them if they have any information on anything suspicious or if they have missing items.”

The suspect found by WPD was not a student at the College. “Williams students don’t do this,” Sequeira said. After some interrogation, the police and the suspect began negotiating deals to halt further questioning and enact no disciplinary measures if the stolen items were returned. The stolen backpack, containing four laptops, appeared in Williams C. The entry reported it to Security, who turned the items over to the police. The first-years whose belongings were stolen were able to retrieve them at the precinct.